In Texas, if you are a victim of a work accident, you are entitled to compensation regardless of your type of employment. But getting fair compensation is a legal matter, and you’ll need to build your case. After reviewing your situation, a work accident lawyer will be able to determine the best course of action. However, here are some essential steps to build a strong case.
Ask a Work Accident Lawyer: 5 Steps for Building Your Case
1. Get Medical Help
Getting medical help immediately after the accident is crucial. While your symptoms may not be painful just after the accident, your injuries can be severe, and proving they are a direct result of the accident is harder if time has passed.
Your employer (or their insurance) may request that you are examined by a doctor they approve. It’s crucial that you thoroughly explain your symptoms without downplaying anything. It’s also essential to be additionally checked by a medical professional of your choice.
2. Hire an Attorney
Getting a good lawyer is vital. While there are plenty of work accident injury lawyers in Houston, TX, you should get someone who:
- Has a proven track record of success
- Can provide examples of similar cases
- Can give precise answers to your questions and shows empathy toward your case
- Is transparent when it comes to fees and your case’s approximate timeline
3. File Injury Reports
In Texas, you have 30 days to report a work-related injury, and you must fill out the worker’s compensation paperwork within one year. It’s always advised to file as soon as possible after the accident, as documenting the case is more manageable. Employers who do not provide workers’ insurance are obligated to inform the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) of any injury resulting in more than a day of work lost. You should get a copy of the report.
4. Determine The Type of Claim
Worker’s compensation insurance is non-compulsory for employers in Texas. Depending on your type of contract, and the conditions leading to your accident, you may be entitled to:
- Worker’s compensation, if your employer has employee insurance.
- Third-party claim if your injury was caused by third-party negligence.
- Non-Subscriber, if your employer’s negligence caused your injury and they don’t provide worker’s insurance.
It’s important to note that Texas’ state laws allow you to file a personal injury claim for a third party’s negligence on top of a worker’s compensation claim. Your lawyer will be able to determine if you are eligible for both.
5. Document Your Case
Every time you file a claim, you need to provide evidence to prove it. Regardless of if your case goes to trial or you decide to settle, you need to document everything. Save all medical records and bills, ask for copies of every report filed, and talk to people who witnessed the accident to get their statements.
Also, save copies of any communication between yourself, your employer, and any related party (third party that may be at fault for the accident, insurance companies, etc.). Your lawyer will be able to help you in case additional evidence is necessary.
6. Determine if Settling is Right for You
While taking your case to court may result in higher compensation, remember that a court process may be overwhelming and complicated. The party at fault will likely extend a settlement offer. Review it with your lawyer, consider counter-offering, and ponder your chances of winning a hearing or trial. A trial or hearing can take longer, and you’ll need to pay out of pocket for all your expenses during the process.
7. Prepare for Trial or Worker’s Compensation Hearing
If you decide against accepting a settlement, you need to prepare for the trial (in case of a third-party personal injury claim) or a hearing (if you are only seeking worker’s compensation). In both cases, your lawyer will be doing most of the talking, but they will need to prepare you for a deposition or in case you are called as a witness.
Your lawyer will also prepare your witnesses before they give their statements.
Some Additional Recommendations
Avoid Sharing Details of Your Case
Never share any details of the case with the other party or their insurance. If an insurance company contacts you, the only information that you need to provide is your lawyer’s contact details. Avoid talking about the case with coworkers or acquaintances, as anything you say can be used against you.
Be Honest With Your Lawyer
It’s essential to choose an attorney you trust because you will need to provide them with information that may be considered sensitive. Never keep information from your lawyer (even when you think it may not be relevant).